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Bitcoin isn’t moving along with meme stocks like it was three years ago, though this week’s stock market action could mean a big crypto rally is on the way.

GameStop and my fellow memes AMC Entertainment are up more than 160% in the last two days. Meanwhile, bitcoin was little changed, falling just 0.1% over the same period, according to Coin Metrics. In contrast, in 2021, GameStop and AMC were up 821% and 373%, respectively, from January to April. Bitcoin’s gains during that time, although more modest, still reached 96%.

“This is not 2021 when the world was locked up and flooded with liquidity,” said Antony Trenchev, co-founder of crypto exchange Nexo. “It’s worth remembering that GameStop mania peaked in January 2021, well before Bitcoin’s peaks of more than $60,000 in April and November of that year. If you want to read the events of the last 24 hours, you can assume that GameStop could act as a leading indicator ahead of the next leg of Bitcoin’s post-halving run.”

“Today’s stronger-than-expected US producer price data is a reminder that macro[economic] and the inflationary backdrop is not conducive to a Bitcoin rally and is likely to remain capped after an explosive open through 2024,” he added.

There is certainly a world of cryptocurrencies beyond Bitcoin that includes meme coins. However, they did not join the party in the same way. Dogecoin and Shiba Inu coins are up about 3% over the past two days, according to Coin Metrics.

Bitcoin is widely considered to be in its own class in the crypto world, driven by macro factors when there are no specific catalysts to consider, such as the launch of exchange-traded bitcoin funds in the US or the bitcoin halving that occurs every four years.

Noel Acheson, economist and author of the “Crypto is Macro Now” newsletter, added that the move in meme stocks was “more of a revving of the engines than a full takeoff” and that macro issues are still weighing on Bitcoin.

“Tomorrow’s inflation data may lift sentiment if it comes in better than expected, but uncertainty is high,” she said.

This year, the US allowed the introduction of the first bitcoin ETFs, driven in large part by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. The funds are expected to attract new types of investors, stable new cash flows, while reducing volatility. Additionally, the 2023 regional banking crisis in the US, which kicked off the current Bitcoin cycle, turned many people on to the cryptocurrency’s potential as an alternative financial system and hedge against uncertainty.

“Bitcoin is no longer seen as a pure speculative asset,” Acheson said. “Its stock-of-value narrative is more deeply entrenched, its holder base is much broader, and it has become somewhat institutionalized.”

Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, added that although bitcoin was “put into the meme stock category” in 2021, the market is starting to show signs that it is now being taken more seriously.

“There is a shift towards trust in the longevity of owning bitcoin,” she said. “Bitcoin has become more commercial in its ETF shell, and both retail and institutional investors tend to hold both Bitcoin and Ether, compared to day trading it as a meme stock.”

As bitcoin has rallied so far in the first quarter of the year, briefly approaching $73,000, it has recently pulled back in what many investors are describing as a healthy move. With few catalysts and triggered by macroeconomic headwinds, these investors also warn that the lull in bitcoin’s price could continue for several more months and perhaps drag prices further down.

“These periods of consolidation can go on for a long time and are very boring,” Trenchev said. “Bitcoin’s narrative faucet has run dry … and I wouldn’t expect the resurgence of the meme craze to be the catalyst for Bitcoin’s next move.”

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